A's pitchers set for early Cactus action

February 27th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- The A’s have mapped out their pitching plans for the early part of Cactus League play.

Right-hander , ranked as the club's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is slated to start Sunday’s opening game against the Dodgers at Hohokam Stadium. Fellow right-handers and will start the following two games, while left-hander draws the start in the fourth spring game.

Like most clubs around the league, the A’s want to ease their main starting pitchers back into action, which is why Jesús Luzardo, Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt and Mike Fiers will not pitch in at least the first four games. Manager Bob Melvin revealed that those four games will be seven-inning contests, agreeing to the request from the A’s opponents for each game. MLB is allowing Spring Training games through March 13 to be shortened to five or seven innings upon mutual agreement of both managers.

“We have a lot of pitching. We could cover nine innings in some of these games with no problem,” Melvin said. “It’s going to be a little different. Spring Training games tend to be a little longer sometimes. Maybe this will speed things up some. I was a little surprised to hear most teams wanted to do seven innings. Maybe we just brought a lot more pitchers to camp here.”

On the position player front, the A’s expect Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland to be among the regulars in Sunday’s starting lineup. Melvin said starters will likely play the first four innings of games early on.

“As far as position players, it will probably be more four innings [for the starters] and then three innings for the second group,” Melvin said. “We want to at least try to get guys two at-bats. Certain guys like to play a little bit longer. Other guys are not trying to rush things early on.”

Outfield prospect resolves visa issues

After missing the start of camp due to visa issues getting out of his home country of the Dominican Republic, a source told MLB.com that Luis Barrera has resolved the situation and arrived in Arizona on Saturday morning. The outfielder will go through the COVID-19 intake process required for all players prior to entering camp and he could join the club for the start of Cactus League play.

Barrera, ranked as Oakland’s No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is expected to see a lot of playing time this spring as a candidate to land a spot on the Major League roster. The left-handed-hitting outfielder was considered one of the club’s top performers at the alternate training site in San Jose last year. To keep himself sharp, Barrera played 13 games for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League.